Friday, July 10, 2009

Resources for dark nights of the soul and health

Spiritual Care: A Newsletter for Spiritual Care Providers Across Manitoba" Number 10 October 2005, features the editorial "Health — A Matter Of The Soul" by Rev. Glen R. Horst in which he writes,
"To do soul work we must face the challenge illness poses to our sense of control and worth in the world. Our automatic inclination is to meet the challenge by fighting the illness with the best medical interventions available. At one level this is necessary, but in spite of all appearances it is not the road to health. The road to health requires soul work that moves beyond automatic patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. Soul work involves opening to the experience of illness and allowing the experience to open our heart (our emotional centre). Soul work is done as we review our life story and deepen our consciousness of who we are, how we are living, and what our vocation or mission in life is. Soul work takes us beneath the surface of the illness experience and connects us deeply to ourselves, to others who care about us, and to the Sacred Mystery that embraces all of life.

Soul work is tough and difficult to do alone, but through it we can create a quiet space in the midst of chaos for choosing how to live through a loss of health in meaningful and loving ways. Soul work is the path to health. When soul work is engaged, healing may occur even without a cure."
On page 6 of the same issue, Laure Salo reviews Thomas Moore's Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals for the book section, "Between The Covers". Salo writes,
"Thomas says, "Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference." In this book, Thomas considers many kinds of dark nights, cites many personal experiences, and relates wisdom, and insights gained from many well-known personalities including Bogart, Keats, Anne Sexton, and of course, John of the Cross. He indicates that there are many ways to deal with them: pills, psychotherapy, expert advice, spiritual guidance, books and tapes, workshops, churches, communities, government guidelines and spas. However, he seems to believe these are all suggestions to "get out of the darkness quickly" He is suggesting, alternatively, "The real task is to live in, and with, the darkness, appreciating its unredeemed value, and loving its irreversible qualities. What is needed is a view of life that includes the dark. ... that insight may not heal you or give you the sense of being whole, but it may give you some intelligence about life." I appreciated the challenge this book presents, and the wise, refreshing insights offered.

It reminded me of the book, The Spirituality of Imperfection. Storytelling and the Journey to Wholeness, by Ernest Kurtz (Author of Not-God) and Katherine Ketcham.

I thought these books worth mentioning as well:
Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness meditations in everyday life by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He has also written Full Catastrophe Living and Coming To Our Senses.

The Voice Of Knowledge, a Toltec Wisdom Book, by Don Miguel Ruiz. He has also written The Four Agreements, and A Companion To The Four Agreements. This is translated from Spanish, and seems to be in a style of speaking that is quite delightful."

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